Tag Archives: olive oil

Fig, Goat’s Cheese and Caramelised Red Onion Quiche with Easy Olive Oil Pastry

2 Jul

I was clambering up slopes trying to get some good pictures of the early season figs, brevas, yesterday morning while walking the dog. On the way back we went to the Sunday morning organic market and found a box of gorgeous looking specimens that I couldn’t resist. Brevas are larger and darker than the small green figs that ripen later in the year and have a very short season. If you see any you have to buy them, well I do anyway.

I love the combination of figs and goat’s cheese, it works so well. The contrast of the sweetness of the figs with the sharp salty goat’s cheese is heaven. You can just chop them up and put them both in a salad with an olive oil and sherry vinegar syrup dressing if you like but it’s been a while since I posted a quiche recipe and this one is special.

I’ve found a foolproof (yes even for you dad) olive oil pastry recipe. It’s quick and easy. You make it, roll it out straight away (no hour-long resting) put it in your tart/quiche tin and leave it in the fridge for half an hour while you prep the filling. Love it.

I blind baked it for about 10 minutes before putting the filling in because I was worried about getting a soggy bottom. Nothing worse than a soggy bottom. With a drier filling I wouldn’t bother. This amount of pastry made enough for my 9 inch/23 cm quiche dish with some left over for a little individual 4 or 5 inch/12 cm tart tin. It is the right amount for a large 11-12 inch/28-30cm tart tin.

Fig, Goat’s Cheese & Red Onion Quiche with Olive Oil Pastry Recipe

Makes a 28-30 cm quiche. Vegetarian. Pastry recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini

Prep time 35 mins  Cooking Time: 35 mins

  • 250 g spelt or wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried herbs (I used 1/2 thyme 1/2 oregano)
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) cold water

Lightly oil & flour your tart tin. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and herbs, drizzle in the olive oil mixing/mashing it in with a fork until well combined (a bit like crumble mix). Measure out the water then add an ice-cube to it. Slowly pour the cold water (not the ice-cube) into the flour and mix it in with the fork until just absorbed then bring it together with one hand kneading a little just until it forms a cohesive ball. Do not over work or it will be tough.

Roll it out on a lightly floured surface, turning it quarter turns as you go to stop it sticking, to the correct size about 2-3 mm thick. Flour your rolling-pin and roll the pastry onto it lifting it gently over to the tart tin and unroll the pastry onto the tin. Push the pastry into the tin (do not stretch it) and trim off the excess. Keep it to make a little one if you have enough. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, finely sliced
  • salt
  • 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary & oregano mixed
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 fresh figs, sliced or chunked
  • 100-150 gr goat’s cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 pot (125 gr) goat’s yoghurt (or greek yoghurt)
  • milk (goat’s milk preferably, I used oat milk)
  • salt & black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium high heat and cook the onions and herbs with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes until starting to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile heat the oven to 200 C. Prick the base of the tart all over with a fork. Blind bake the tart case (with baking paper & beans) for about 8 minutes for the large quiche (5 minutes for individual). Remove the paper & beans and put back in the oven for 3 minutes (2 minutes for small) to set the pastry.

Spread the red onions evenly over the base, crumble/break the goat’s cheese and scatter all over then fill in the gaps with the chopped/sliced figs.

In a measuring jug, beat together the eggs then beat in the yoghurt until combined. Add enough milk to take it up to about 450 ml beating again and season well with salt & black pepper.

Open the oven, put the tart on the middle oven shelf, pull it out and then pour the egg mixture into the tart, gently push the shelf in and close the door. This stops the mixture slopping everywhere hopefully.

Bake until the quiche is just set and slightly browned about 20-30 minutes, less for a small one. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm (not hot) or at room temperature.

This is perfect picnic food, best served at room temperature it really is delicious. Goat’s cheese, figs and caramelised red onions how could that be anything other than lovely. Just serve it with a peppery, crunchy green salad. and a glass of chilled rose maybe. Summer is here. Well it is here anyway!

I am really pleased with this pastry recipe, definitely going to try a sweet version next. I’m thinking a rustic fruit galette, can’t wait. This time of year it all about fruit and there is a lot of it. Plums, peaches, nectarines, figs the list goes on. Dessert for breakfast, lunch and dinner, sound good to me!

Buen Provecho!

Individual Apricot, Almond and Rosewater Tartlets

2 Jun

I have spoken before in a recent post about inspiration. These pretty little tarts came into being because I pass apricot trees laden with fruit, beautiful roses and young green almonds every morning when I run with the dog. These things stick in my head and come out in the form of food generally.

I was going to make an apricot galette inspired by Pease Pudding’s stunning Pear & Chocolate Galette but I wanted to make my pastry using spelt flour and use olive oil instead of butter. The olive oil pastry idea came from Food To Glow’s olive oil crust recipe. It’s a savoury recipe for a  gorgeous Tandoori Cauliflower Tart but she also talks about a sweet version of the pastry using ground almonds and vanilla. This got me thinking.

This is what I do you see, go off on a tangent. I end up using about four different recipes at the same time taking the bits I need from each one. Both ladies above suggested using Chocolate & Zucchini’s olive oil pastry recipe but then I found an apricot and almond tart using a sweet olive oil pastry on La Tartine Gourmande.

So I went with that one. And the pastry is lovely, for a tart. It’s just a bit too delicate for a galette. It’s a really short pastry which means it’s kind of like a biscuity shortbread rather than a pastry you can fold around a fruit filling without it cracking. So the little tart tins came out and the galette got put back a bit. I know my friend Jeanne said recently that she had lots of peaches and plums growing at the moment and both of those would be perfect in a galette.

Apricot, Almond & Rosewater Tartlets

Makes 2 x 10cm tartlets, vegan, wheat-free. Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

  • 7 or 8 apricots
  • 2 or 3 tbsp rosewater
  • 100 gr spelt flour (or wholemeal/plain)
  • 30 gr raw or soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds for the pastry
  • pinch salt
  • 2 drops almond extract
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water (maybe)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds for the filling
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • flaked almonds
  • icing sugar to serve

 For the pastry, mix the flour, sugar, ground almonds and salt in the bowl of a food processor (or you can do it by hand). Add the almond extract and olive oil and mix/ pulse until crumbly, stop if necessary to scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure that everything is well incorporated. Pulse until it forms a ball that leaves the side of the bowl, you may have to add a little water a teaspoon at a time to get it to hold together. Wrap it in cling film, flatten it into a disc and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Half the apricots and remove the stones, the skin of mine came off really easily when I was preparing them but you can leave it on if you like. Cut each half into 4 wedges, put in a bowl and sprinkle over the rosewater. Leave this to marinate while your pastry is resting.

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and roll them out between two sheets of floured clingfilm, this stops it sticking to the work surface & rolling-pin. Roll them into rough circles to fit your tart tins about 2-3 mm thick. Lift them carefully on the clingfilm and place into the tins. Push the dough into the tins so it is even, trim around the top with a sharp knife and patch up any cracks with the off cuts.

Prick the bases all over with a fork and then sprinkle over a thin layer of ground almonds. Arrange the apricots slices in a fanned circle around the edge and put 2 slices in the middle. Squeeze the honey/agave syrup over the fruit and top with some flaked almonds. Bake for about 25 minutes, leave to cool slightly and dust with a layer of icing sugar to serve. Some rose petals scattered over look pretty too.

Have a great weekend!

Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Spelt Flour Braid Loaf

20 Apr

So here it is, as promised, the recipe for the Garlic & Rosemary Braid that I made to go with the Baked Camembert with Honey Glazed Pear & Almonds in my last post.

The delicious flavour of this bread comes from roasting a whole bulb of garlic with fresh rosemary in the oven for about 35 minutes until it is soft and sweet. You then squeeze the roasted cloves out of their papery cases and mash them with a beaten egg. All of this goes into the bread mixture before kneading.

I don’t need to tell you that it smells amazing while it is cooking and that you will not be able to resist pulling a piece off to stuff in your mouth as soon as it comes out of the oven. You may want to have some olive oil ready to dunk it into.

I brushed the top with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary after 15 minutes of cooking and then put it back in the oven for another 10-15 to get golden. I also painted another layer of olive oil over the top when I took it out of the oven to give it a lovely shiny finish.

Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Braided Spelt Loaf

Makes 1 loaf, vegetarian, wheat-free. Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tsp veg stock
  • 450 gr (3 cups) spelt flour (or plain flour)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 sachet of quick action yeast (or I used 25 gr fresh yeast, finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) milk (I used oat milk)
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) water
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter plus extra for brushing top
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 210 C. Remove the outer paper from the head of garlic but do not peel or separate the cloves. Cut off the top of head of garlic but leave the root end intact. Place cut side up on a baking sheet (or oven proof pan), brush/drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and sprinkle with the rosemary. Cover and roast for 30-35 minutes until soft. Leave to cool for 10 minutes then squeeze the cloves out of their cases into a small bowl with the veg stock and mash with a fork.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. In a small saucepan gently heat the milk, water, 3 tbsp butter or olive oil until just warmed through. Add this to the dry ingredients and combine well with a wooden spoon.

Beat an egg into the mashed garlic until smooth and add that to the mix as well. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too wet but you want quite a sticky dough.

Tip it out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Turn the dough out and divide into three equal balls. With your hands, roll these into approx 18 inch sausages/ropes. place the sausages on a baking sheet lined with baking paper that has been brushed with oil. (they will probably hang over one end at this point) and braid/plait them as evenly as possible. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck them under. Cover again and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C and bake for 15 minutes. Mix some chopped rosemary and sea salt into a tablespoon of olive oil and brush this over the top of the bread. Put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

You can also brush it with more olive oil when it has finished cooking to give it a nice shine. Leave to cool on a wire rack. If you can bear to wait, that is…

Enjoy your weekend…

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

31 Jan

Lemons are everywhere here at the moment. I use lemons a lot in my cooking to brighten up soups, curries, salads and dips. Most of my dishes are finished of with a squeeze of lemon before serving. It just highlights all the other flavours and brings the dish to life.

I saw Nigella make a lemon polenta cake that looked delicious. Hers had quite a bit of butter in it so I thought I’d try to make it with olive oil instead. I have some amazing first press newly harvested local stuff to play with and I’m always looking for excuses to use it in anything.

You should always keep olive oil (or anything really) in glass bottles if you can. Plastic affects the chemical make up of things especially when heated.  Like you should never use cling film when microwaving things. Or drink water out of a plastic bottle that has been in the sun. Microwaves are nasty anyway. Ours broke a few years ago and we have never replaced it. I honestly don’t miss it at all.

Most recipes also use a mixture of polenta, plain flour and ground almonds. I wanted to make a gluten-free, dairy-free version so I tried it without the flour. It works…

Lemon Polenta Olive Oil Cake

Makes a 24cm/9 inch cake, serves 12. Dairy-free, gluten-free.

Adapted from A Meandering Mango

Prep time: 15 mins Cooking time: 45 mins

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 160 gr (3/4 cup) brown sugar (or raw sugar)
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
  • 2 large lemons, zested & juiced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 190 gr polenta (cornmeal)
  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 150 C and oil a 24 cm loose bottomed cake tin.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and creamy (about 4 mins). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, continuing to whisk until all the oil is combined. Whisk in the lemon zest and vanilla.

In another bowl, stir together the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Sieve this mixture over the eggs and sugar in 3 batches, alternating with the lemon juice, folding until just combined.

Pour into the oiled cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Serve with a light dusting of icing sugar. You can also make a lemon syrup to drizzle over if you think it needs it. Heat up some lemon juice and icing sugar in a pan until the sugar dissolves. Use a cocktail stick or piece of dried spaghetti (authentic Italian version) to make holes all over the top of the cake. Pour the syrup slowly over the top of the cake letting the syrup sink in.

Buen Provecho!!

In my next post I will be making an exciting announcement about what I will be getting up to over the next month…

Stay Tuned!!

Pisto Con Huevos – A Rustic Spanish Classic

1 Oct

Pisto con huevos is a Spanish version of ratatouille (pisto) topped with an egg then baked in the oven, in my version anyway. Alternatively you can top it with a fried egg or mix the eggs into the pisto like scrambled.

This popular rustic dish is often referred to as Pisto Manchego because it was first developed in central La Mancha. Manchego means “from La Mancha”. You may not know that the true Manchego cheese is made only from whole milk of the Manchega sheep raised in the “La Mancha” region.  Hard cured sheep’s milk cheeses from other regions are called Queso de Oveja Curado. Continue reading

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

13 Aug

This is a fusion of two of the most well-known Spanish summer soups: Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco. Gazpacho is traditionally a tomato based chilled vegetable soup and Ajo Blanco is a white version, also served chilled, made with almonds, garlic and olive oil.

They have their roots in southern Andalucia from around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga and they are both believed to have originated with the Moors.

I was looking for white grape recipes because I walk by these bunches of Moscatel grapes every morning watching them grow sweeter and darker with the heat of the sun.

I found a recipe for White Grape Gazpacho which I really liked the idea of. I have to admit that I am not all that fond of cold soup, in fact I never eat it. I realise that this is sacrilege coming from the birthplace of Gazpacho but I can’t help it, I’ve tried and I’m just not feeling it. I don’t like olives either, I know, por dios!

For some strange reason the fact that it was a cold soup with fruit, rather than vegetables, made it more appealing to me. It may have been to do with the soaring temperatures and the inability to think about eating anything even the slightest bit warm. Whatever the explanation, I was happy to try it.

I’m so glad I did, this is a really refreshing soup. It has to be really cold though, I mean ice-cold, and you have to eat it quickly before it starts to get warm.

The Ajo Blanco cream came to me because I thought it needed a swirl of something on top. You could use creme fraiche but it’s a bit French and I saw Rick Stein making (well he was actually watching someone else making) Ajo Blanco on his new series, A Taste of Spain. The traditional garnish is some Moscatel grapes. So I decided to turn the tables and use Ajo Blanco as my garnish on the White Grape Gazpacho. The two work so well together.

This would make a really elegant summer starter/appetizer for entertaining. It looks impressive but is surprisingly easy. Just chill and serve.

White Grape Gazpacho with Ajo Blanco Cream

Serves 2-3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Honey Flow Farm & Spain Recipes

For the White Grape Gazpacho:

  • 350 gr white grapes (moscatel would be lovely, deseeded) I used seedless. Plus extra for garnish, halved
  • 10/12 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • a small handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber (1 Spanish pepino) peeled and diced
  • 2 or 3 spring onions (1 small cebolleta), finely chopped
  • 220 ml (1 cup) veg stock
  • 220 ml (1 cup) iced water (I use 3 ice cubes crushed, and water)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix all the ingredients apart from the stock and water together in a bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Remove three-quarters of the mix to a food processor, pulse a few times then add the stock and iced water and process until it liquid but still with some texture. Then add in the rest of the ingredients from the bowl and pulse once more. Taste for seasoning and chill for at least 2 hours. Put your serving bowls in the freezer to chill too.

For the Ajo Blanco Cream:

  • 75 gr (1/2 cup) ground almonds
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgen olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 50-75 ml (1/2-3/4 cup) cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • flaked almonds, toasted in a dry pan for garnish

Put the ground almonds, garlic and sherry vinegar in a food processor and blend. Then add the olive oil and blend to a smooth paste. Add the water, a bit at a time until you reach the consistency of thick pouring cream. Season with the salt, taste, cover and chill for 2 hours.

To serve, ladle the cold Grape Gazpacho soup into the frozen bowls and top with a generous swirl of the Ajo Blanco cream. Top with a few halved grapes and some of the toasted flaked almonds.

Buen Provecho!

Things That Made Me Smile Today……

A lone goat wandering down the middle of the road. We stopped the car to say hello, she was very friendly!

Rufus looking very serious, “Stop taking pictures of me!”

Have a great weekend,

Chargrilled Broccoli and Beans with Chilli, Garlic and Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

10 Jul

I know broccoli isn’t usually the most exciting of vegetables. I know it can be a bit bland and boring. Time to rethink that. With this treatment it transforms into a shining star.

Seriously, we can’t get enough of it. The Washer Up, my toughest critic, has claimed it his favourite thing. To quote “This is the best thing you’ve ever made”. You can’t argue with that can you?

My best friend Tara bought me the Ottolenghi cookbook for my birthday. I am steadily working my way through it and every recipe that I have tried has been a definite winner. It’s all about the flavour and colour which is the kind of food I love. It has a definite Middle Eastern theme, but not solely. There are recipes from all over the world.

What I noticed, while flicking through, was that a lot of the food is cooked on a griddle pan. It adds to the flavour and appearance of a dish, giving a certain smokiness and the attractive black stripes that make such a difference to the overall impression.

I didn’t own griddle pan. I do now. Get ready for chargrilled everything.

It is chargrilling the broccoli and then drenching it in a garlic & chilli infused olive oil that makes this dish so special. You can serve it on its own, as a side dish with anything, or make it the star on top of some sweet soy rice noodles. Either way it’s delicious. You need to try this. 

Chargrilled Broccoli & Beans with Garlic, Chilli & Sweet Soy Rice Noodles

serves 2 -3, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Ottolenghi The Cookbook

  • 1 large head broccoli
  • a handful of french beans
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 mild red chillies, thinly sliced (or 1 hot red chilli)
  • sea salt & black pepper
  • 250 gr fat (XL) rice noodles (or any noodles)
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or use soy sauce plus 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • a handful of cashew nuts or flaked almonds, toasted

Separate the broccoli into florets with small stems still attached. Trim off  the stalk ends of the beans. Cook the broccoli in boiling salted water for exactly 2 minutes (no more). Then quickly transfer it, with a slotted spoon, to a large bowl of iced water, to stop the cooking. Now do the same with the beans.

Drain the broccoli & beans in a colander and then spread them out on a clean tea towel and leave to dry completely.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, drain and rinse under the cold tap to stop them sticking together. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the dried veg with 3 tbsp olive oil and season generously with salt & black pepper. Place a ridged griddle pan over a high heat and leave it for 5 minutes to heat up. Grill the veg in batches so it’s not too crowded. Leave them for a minute on one side then turn them over so they get nice char marks on all sides. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue to griddle the rest.

Meanwhile put the 75 ml olive oil in a small saucepan with the sliced garlic & chillies. Cook them over a medium heat until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown. Don’t let it burn. Remove from the heat and pour the hot oil over the bowl of hot broccoli & beans and toss together well. Check seasoning.

Heat up a wok, or large frying pan, over a medium high heat, add in the cooked noodles, kecap manis (or soy sauce & honey), sesame oil and oyster sauce. Heat through the noodles and then throw in the veg. Toss everything together well and serve in deep bowls.

Squeeze over some lemon/lime juice and sprinkle with the toasted nuts and chopped coriander.

You are going to love this. Broccoli has never tasted so good, honestly. If you don’t own a grill pan go out and buy one now.

It’s just a bit of a bitch to clean….. Apparently.

Things that made me smile today…..

Dragonflies…

Butterflies….

And bugs…

Hasta Luego!!

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Hazelnut Mint Pesto

28 Apr

This is a great alternative to all those rich mayonnaise based potato salads. It is spring on a plate. Fresh, seasonal, delicious and completely guilt free. I served it warm as a side dish with dinner and then cold for lunch the next day. Both ways were lovely. It would be great for a barbecue or buffet too.

I bought some beautiful baby new potatoes from the market along with fresh asparagus & broad beans. This formed the base of my salad now I just needed  a dressing. My mint plant on the roof terrace is growing like mad with all the rain so I had to use it. A basil pesto would work really well too but I think the mint with the new potatoes is heavenly. The hazelnuts add a slight sweetness which rounds off the flavours and brings it all together.

Warm Potato Salad with Asparagus, Broad Beans & Hazelnut Mint Pesto

serves 2 -3 as a side dish, vegan, gluten-free

  • 300 gr baby new potatoes, cut into 1/2 cm slices
  • 1 bundle fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off and cut in half or thirds
  • 200 gr broad beans
  • 50 gr toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped plus extra for garnish
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint (keep mint stalks) plus leaves for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 finely chopped small spring onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a grinding of black pepper

Put the potatoes and mint stalks in a large pan of cold, salted water, bring to the boil & cook until just tender. Add the asparagus & broad beans to the potatoes and cook for another 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and remove the mint stalks.

Meanwhile make the pesto. Process the hazelnuts, mint, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper to a paste. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If you need to add more liquid use olive oil, lemon juice or a bit of veg stock.

If you like you can peel the broad beans at this point if the skins are tough and you want a brighter green colour. Tip the potatoes, beans, asparagus and spring onions into a bowl, pour over the pesto and mix everything together well. Check seasoning again.

Serve straight away sprinkled with some chopped hazelnuts and mint leaves or store, covered in the fridge until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it. Let it come to room temperature then garnish as above.

This is a really elegant, flavourful side dish that can be adapted to what is in season or what you have in the fridge. Green beans would be nice if you don’t have asparagus and try swapping the mint/hazelnut for parsley/almond pesto.

It has just occurred to me that this is the perfect dish to take to a Royal Wedding party tomorrow. Everyone seems to be watching it on TV at someone’s house and taking something for the buffet. I must be the only person who won’t be watching it. It’s The Washer Up’s only day off so we are going out and getting our hair cut instead…. It’s not like I won’t see the dress or anything. I’m sure there’ll be nothing else on the TV for days……..

Good Luck Kate, you’re going to need it!!

Honey, Apple, Date and Walnut Olive Oil Cake

1 Apr

There are so many bees around at the moment busy collecting pollen. They reminded me of a visit I made to a local honey producer about a month ago that I haven’t blogged about yet. I have been waiting for the perfect honey recipe to come along which is deserving enough to feature the delicious honey that I bought, and this is definitely THE one. More about that later, first the visit then the recipe…

You had to drive through a river to get there but I doubt all that water is still there now with all the hot weather we have been having. It looks worse than it is….

Miel is “honey” in Spanish and Fuente del Sol means “Fountain (or Source) of Sun”.

There is a slightly unattractive warehouse and a very well hidden little shop with a small sign outside….

Inside the shop they sell lots of different types of honey. There’s orange blossom, rosemary, thyme, eucalyptus and wild flower honey and they sell it in the squeezy non-drip bottles as well as glass jars. They also sell pollen and royal jelly products as well as a range of  natural soaps and cosmetics made using aloe vera and olive oil. 

I bought some thyme honey which is really lovely. I have been having it on toast for breakfast with my local goat’s ricotta (requeson) it’s so good. If you’ve never tried ricotta and honey on toast you should, and so much better when they are both local. You could even make your own ricotta, it is really easy unless you’re my dad, but that’s another story…..He had a bit of a drama making my spinach & ricotta gnocchi!

I’ve been trying recently to use olive oil instead of butter whenever possible in my cooking. The delicious extra virgin olive oil in the picture above we helped to harvest back in November and I’ve used it to make some banana & coconut muffins that tasted great.  We store it in empty wine bottles because plastic bottles are not good – for your health or the health of the oil.  I’ve seen quite a few Italian recipes for olive oil cakes and wanted to give it a try. I was thinking local olive oil and local honey it’s got to be good. I wasn’t wrong….

Honey, Apple, Date & Walnut Olive Oil Cake

makes 16 squares, vegetarian

  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 130 gr brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 165 ml good olive oil
  • 260 gr runny honey (coat the measure with a little olive oil so the honey slips out easily)
  • 375 gr wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 apples, peeled,cored and roughly diced. I used 1 1/2 large fuji apples you need something crisp.
  • 100 gr walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100 gr dates, stoned and roughly chopped, plus a few extra for garnish
  • a small tub of mascarpone/creme fraiche
  • extra honey

Preheat the oven to 180 C and line a 9×13 inch cake/roasting tin with baking paper, base & sides. Beat the eggs, brown sugar & vanilla (if using)in a large bowl with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes until light & fluffy. Slowly add in the honey and oil bit by bit, beating until well blended.

Into another bowl sieve the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt then tip in the whole-wheat bits left in the sieve as well. Stir to combine. Add the flour mixture, apples, walnuts and dates to the wet ingredients and fold together gently until just blended (Don’t overmix you will get a tough cake).

Pour the mixture in to the lined baking tin and spread out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes or until the top is firm and golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into 16 squares and serve with coffee and a pot of mascarpone drizzled with more honey and some more dates or walnuts for the top.

Spoon some of the honey mascarpone on top of your piece of cake and top with a date half. It was all looking quite healthy up until then wasn’t it. Oh well it’s only a suggestion…..

This cake is so moist and delicious with the apples, honey and olive oil, you need to make it and then invite people round for an afternoon tea or coffee. Otherwise you might just have to eat it all. It keeps really well too, if it should last that long…..Enjoy!

Desert Island Banana and Coconut Breakfast Muffins

14 Mar

This is the perfect pick me up after all this rain. I wanted something tropical to remind me of the sun that seems to have disappeared for good. Banana and coconut, such a classic combination that takes me back to Caribbean holidays when I was younger. One holiday to Antigua in particular springs to mind. I had the amazing banana bread for breakfast every day for three weeks, it was that good. I’ve never found a banana bread to match it since. That might be something to do with waking up to a view of the turquoise sea and pinky white sandy beach though, it makes everything taste better.

So if muffins grew on palm trees this is what they would taste like. Banana, coconut & honey. So, go with me on this one and imagine yourself stranded on a desert island and all you have to eat are muffins that grow on trees. It wouldn’t be so bad would it? And if the rain is throwing your fantasy off just imagine it’s a tropical thunder-storm, they only last for an hour and it means you can shelter in the bar with an over-garnished tacky cocktail. Or is that just me? Oh yes, this desert island has a bar and a hammock. Well, it’s my fantasy I can have what I like…..

These delicious little fantasy muffins are made with wholemeal flour and olive oil rather than butter. So you can eat as many as you like. In fantasy world that is…..

Desert Island Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins

makes 12, vegetarian

  • 250 gr self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 175 gr brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100 ml milk (I used goat’s milk)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ripe bananas, quartered lengthways and chopped
  • 50 gr toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 50 gr desiccated coconut
  • about 12 tsp honey (a squeezy bottle is easiest)

Preheat oven to 180 C. Sieve the flour and salt into a large bowl, mix in the sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg and make a well in the centre. Mix together the egg, milk & oil in a jug and pour into the well in the flour. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just incorporated. Don’t over mix or your muffins will be tough. Then carefully fold in the banana, walnuts & coconut.

Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases and spoon (or use and ice cream scoop) the mixture into the paper cases about 2/3 full.  Make a hole in the top of the muffins with the back of a teaspoon and squeeze in about a teaspoon of honey (see photo above) don’t worry if it overflows.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown & cooked. Remove from the muffin tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

You could add whatever you like to these muffins, some dates would be nice and follow on from the palm tree theme. Or maybe some chopped apples would be good with the cinnamon & nutmeg.

Just keep the fantasy going by imagining yourself on that tropical beach somewhere. You know what, I think the sun might be coming out!  That’s the power of positive thinking for you. I’d better take the dog out before it starts raining again……

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